I joined the scouts at 11 years old, quickly I developed a friendship with one of the group leaders. Over the years he nurtured this friendship, talking to me most evenings on social media, texting and picking me for ‘special projects’ he encouraged me to become a young leader so we were able to see each other more often. By 15 (Around 2010) we were in a full relationship, though only a handful of people knew (no adults in scouting had been informed) however leaders regularly left us both alone in the scout premises, or arrived to groups and seeing that both of us had been there for a while before their arrival – would say nothing and not question it.
Despite my age and being a young leader, leaders would often regard how close we were yet not challenge or question his behaviour or why we were so close, we would travel together to events, leaders would leave us both to stay up late on camps despite knowing it was just the two of us. I believe that because of this negligence he was able to start a sexual relationship with me. With all sexual conduct happening on scout premises and grounds.
At 16 I ended the relationship and quickly became uncomfortable by his presence, leaders and friends noticed my change in behaviour towards him and noticed I was visibly uncomfortable by his presence. One leader contacted me on social media and questioned why I was so uncomfortable, I decided to tell this leader about the relationship and what had happened in person. I also explained that I was concerned he was grooming another young person now. This leader said they would deal with it but didn’t tell me what they would do, months later nothing had changed, and I found out that the leader I had reported it too was also dating a 15 year old boy and his friends/family who were also scout leaders were all aware. I suspect this is why he protected him.
Five years later, as an adult, I realised how inappropriate the relationship had been, the negligence from other leaders and decided to lodge a complaint with the Scout Association. After notifying them of the instances that had occurred and that the leader was still working as a cub leader, I was told they wouldn’t do anything unless I reported it to the Police. After reporting it to the police the scout association continued to refuse to do anything. After asking for assistance from a county scout leader, who took the issue seriously, I was told my The Scout Associations safeguarding team that the leader would be put in front of a panel of scout leaders and they would likely side with him (denying what happened) so suggested I dropped the accusations. Eventually I sent conclusive evidence (images, screenshots) of the relationship and due to pressure from the county leader I had involved, they interviewed the leader and suggested he resigned. The safeguarding officer contacted me to notify me that he and his family were incredibly upset and was I sure I wanted to continue. I insisted they continued, but instead of removing him they suggested he resigned, which he did.
I asked for support with counselling after the process, which had taken around 6 months and been mentally challenging, and was told this was not possible and to speak to my GP.
The entire process was re-traumatising, I wasn’t listened to and the matter was not taken seriously.
On reflection of my time in scouting, other than this incident I was personally aware of almost 10 inappropriate relationships (over 18’s grooming and having relationships with under 16’s) and was involved in five other instances with leaders sending me and friends inappropriate images, messages e.t.c. For these reasons I believe their is a systemic issue within scouting.